Hello Tech Pros Podcast – Leadership

New School

Great discussion about the difference between traditional Leadership and the Toyota style of leadership.  Toyota is the creator of the Lean manufacturing movement and the Toyota way has been written about and studied for years.  Jason is a Lean consultant that teaches Toyota’s way of Lean Leadership, and he shares some great stories in this podcast.

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Trump Hillary

How to save your company from the economy if the “other” candidate wins the Presidency!

New School

How to save your company from the economy if the “other” candidate wins the Presidency!

Recently the amount of discussions and articles that are available about the presidential race are at an all time high.  The level of interest raises everyday as we inch closer to November and the potential of one of the candidates winning becomes imminent.  The fear and concern is almost deafening as everyone is concerned about the “other” candidate.  Well maybe you are right….maybe the country is about to collapse along with everything you have built?  Now what are you going to do about it?

Problem Solving

Problem Solving

New School

For Problem Solving success – Have a Bias for Action!

Very often I see clients who are struggling to get any traction going when it comes to problem solving and making those needed small improvements in their business.

When it comes to problem solving, many business owners and executives get stuck in the details. They form committees with 20 members, have meetings and ponder what to do without ever taking action.

So how do you get going very early on with problem solving and your lean journey?

6 Reasons to Start your lean journey

6 Reasons to Start Your Lean Journey Now!

New School

I have yet to come across a company during my 20 years of lean that could not benefit from the approach Toyota taught me over the years.  The bigger issue is not the fact that the processes and team members need the help, but convincing leadership that they need it.  Leaders often struggle to have the humility to look at their company and simply say “we need help” or specifically “I need help”.  I am here to say that it is ok, and to share some simple reasons as to why it is time to start your lean journey.

Lean Consulting Problem Solving

The gap in true Lean Problem Solving – Fail fast and fail often!

New School

Lean Problem Solving

Problem solving using the Scientific Method is a key part of many organizations since Dr. Deming and Toyota applied this process in quality circles and manufacturing processes. The method, which in it’s most simplistic form is described as Plan, Do, Check, Act….or PDCA, is the basis of Lean today. The tools of lean, the management system, and the philosophies of Lean are all designed to create a PDCA cycle that creates sustainable business learning and results. This should be true at all levels of a truly lean organization. At a strategic level there should be a longer PDCA cycle with appropriate KPI’s, visuals, and reviews. This PDCA supports the longer vision of the organization and should be broken down to all of the functional levels at more frequent PDCA cycles through out the organization. Many companies are fairly effective of having the key components at the strategic level and the next level down of functional areas typically have the basic components for a PDCA at that level. Where gaps usually exist in designing a lean problem solving culture is at the shop floor level, where true value for the customer actually exists.

Gap on the Shop Floor

“Shop floor” is a term that is used to reference where the value added work is happening within an organization no matter what kind of processes exists in the company. At the shop floor level, Problem solving needs to happen at a speed that most companies don’t know how to manage or facilitate to be effective. When companies realize the need to have a plan and solve problems at a weekly, daily, and hourly pace…typically this is causes a situation where no action occurs at all. The fear of failure rooted in cultures that are used to working on problems over weeks, months, even years…hoping for the silver bullet machine or process to fix all the problems at once impede them from moving forward on simple problems facing them today. Toyota teaches that every problem, no matter how big or small, is the key to creating positive change and learning for the entire organization. So, if your organization is only focusing on problem solving on a Monthly basis…how much is your company really learning? What if your organization was solving 10, 20, 50 problems a day? Think of the learning and how those results can add up to help your organization achieve larger strategic goals. This is the key to unlocking the potential of continuous improvement, actually improving on a daily basis in a structured and sustainable manor.

Daily Improvement Plan

Fail fast and fail often. This is the type of thinking that must be adopted in order to unlock daily improvement. There can’t be a fear of failure if rapid, quick improvement through PDCA is going to take place. In fact, if PDCA is being used properly, there really is no “failure” in terms of the bigger vision because with every PDCA cycle comes learning. The learning allows the team member to be that much more equipped and capable for the next cycle of PDCA.

In order for this daily PDCA process to happen, the organization must focus on three things early on to start the foundation of a daily improvement culture. First, empower the process owners and employees doing the work to make change with a “Bias for action” approach. Encourage them to take small problems, quickly come up with a plan on how to solve it, and test it. Without fear of failure, without pressures of specific business goals…just solve something! Focus on the “Bias for action” before being concerned with how effective the solution was or what problem was chosen. Second, work with them to use “creativity before capital”. Many of the daily problems that are focused on should be able to solve, or at least test, with little to no money. Encourage using cardboard and duct tape to test a solution before buying the solution. This approach will create a much better learning experience and will eliminate the default of buying solutions and instead focus on how to solve the problem today in a very quick manner. Lastly, focus feedback very heavily on the learning and the process, not the results. The results will come. Many companies focus so much on the results, that it undermines the process. The process of using PDCA as a way of quick problem solving should be front and center with the long-term expectation that the learning will translate into long term sustainable results.

Every organization needs this army of problem solvers moving the improvement needle everyday, but it does need to be focused. Otherwise we are not deploying our resources in the organization on our most important problems. There are processes to accomplish this which leads into the overall management system for the organization and how all activities, in all areas are aligned.   This is very important….but start failing fast and often with a bias for action…alignment in the organization can come later, in another post.


Lean Consulting Management System

Culture Change – It starts with you Mr. CEO!

New School

The Culture Change “Question”

A common question that is asked of me during my consulting adventures is “How do we create culture change?”. This is one of the most difficult issues to address within any business. I will often start working with an organization well after their pursuit of change and a new culture vision has failed and typically cost many dollars and hours of effort to provide very little results. The simple question is why? Why did all the efforts of leadership meetings, crafting the vision, employee discussions, and communication plans fail and end with frustration and the same culture that has been representative in the company for years? It is because you didn’t change. You, the CEO, President, Owner, Founder, Chief I’m-in-charge person, or whatever you call yourself did not change the way you lead. You did not change YOUR behavior….so why would the culture change?

What typically happens…

I see this all the time; the role out of the new vision is eagerly met with anticipation and excitement by some early adopters in the organization.   These are the individuals within your organization that want and are waiting for change. The leadership team is talking about the new vision, pointing in the new direction for a brighter company future, yet still behaving and operating under the same guidance of the old culture. After some period of time trying to operate under the premise of the new vision, lacking support and similar behavior from the leadership team, they eventually retreat back to the comfort and displayed culture that continues to surround them.

What to do…

If Leadership wants to create a new business model and the culture that is needed to support it, they must model the desired behavior. Leaders need to simply lead through their behavior, and this will create the ability for the organization to follow and the culture change to take root. I still believe in having a very clear plan as to how we want an organizational culture to look, what behaviors we are looking for, and the end result needed in a business context, but none of it will be sustainable if the leadership team does not lead.

One of the areas of failure with accomplishing this alignment of leadership behavior and the desired culture is lack of process. As with any desired business result, a defined process to accomplish it is the best way to succeed. So creating a Management System that supports, guides, and provides a context to the desired behavior is a necessity. For example, if a company wants to use problem solving as a basis for improvement within their company….they better have a clear process to highlight problems, prioritize problems, and a process for solving them. In addition, they must be celebrating finding problems as opportunities instead of seeing problems as a negative and continuing a culture of “problems are bad”. In this situation, a process can be developed to model and support the behavior and culture desired. A process can align the entire organization around the common vision that will create a platform for sustainable culture change.

Often organizations focus on process in terms of operations and miss the opportunity to apply rigorous processes in terms of how we manage. What is the standard work when it comes to being a leader? What is the proper way to coach an employee through a problem? What are the areas of the organization that I should be looking at on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly…etc. These are all very important aspect to make sure we are focusing on the things important to the business and behaving in a way the supports the vision of the company. This is a place that many organizations need significant help and don’t even realize the gap exist in most cases.

So, if you are having difficulty with culture change in your organization, look at your own behaviors first, and then look at your Management System (Process) second. If you haven’t changed your behavior and you don’t have a clear process, then you better get to work.


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